Crazy Horse Memorial: Five Facts

A colossal sculpture of the Lakota warrior in South Dakota's Black Hills will be North America's largest carving.

Crazy Horse Memorial, Black Hills, South Dakota, image

Hikers check out the view from the Crazy Horse Memorial.

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Famous for defeating General George Custer at Little Bighorn, the great Lakota Indian warrior Crazy Horse is now the center of another struggle: a 62-year effort to symbolize him in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski began chipping away at the mountain in 1948; his family took over after he died in 1982. When finished, this will be the continent’s largest hand-hewn memorial—641 feet long and 563 high, eight feet taller than the Washington Monument.

No photos, please Crazy Horse resisted having his picture taken, so the monument is a “metaphorical” depiction rather than an exact likeness.

Presidential background A self-taught sculptor, Ziolkowski gained key mountain-carving skills during a brief stint assisting on Mount Rushmore.

More than a mountain Besides being a museum and cultural center, the Crazy Horse Memorial is home to a 10-week summer university program for American Indian students.

Monumental hike The annual June Volksmarch, the only time the public is permitted to hike up the mountain, attracts some 15,000 participants.

Grassroots support Fees from more than 1 million visitors per year pay for most of the work on the memorial, which gets no state or federal funding.

Photography by Sergio Pitamitz/Robert Harding World Imagery/Corbis

This article was first published in March 2011. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.

If You're Going: 

From Highway 385 turn onto Avenue of the Chiefs, 5.8 miles north of Custer, S.D. Visitor center and Indian museum open year-round. Call (605) 673-4681 or visit crazyhorsememorial.org.

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